Last week, Saturday Night Live parodied all those “feminist” songs out there: “This is not a feminist song,” the female cast members sang with host Ariana Grande, as they joked about the impossible feat of coming up with a truly feminist anthem that doesn’t alienate or offend feminists. How can you expect to speak to every single woman without misrepresenting?
Apparently, you just call Michelle Obama. FLOTUS announced this week that she assembled an all-star, diverse cast of female artists and songwriters to create “This Is for My Girls,” a catchy tune aimed at encouraging young women around the world and sold to benefit the #62MillionGirls campaign.
Featuring Kelly Clarkson, Zendaya, Janelle Monae, Lea Michele, Kelly Rowland, Jadagrace, fellow SXSW panel speakers Diane Warren, Missy Elliott, and Chloe & Halle, who performed FLOTUS’ speech on Wednesday, the track features generic lyrics like, “This is for my girls, all around the world / Stand up, hold your head up / Don’t take nothing from nobody.” But even with the cheese factor, it’s a horn-heavy banger that manages to meld cowbell percussions and airhorns with a rocking chorus sung by Rowland.
It’s also got a tight verse from Elliott, who only recently returned to making music, and she’s the one who stands out in the sea of vocal champions like Clarkson. “This is for my ladies, like soldiers we stand up,” she raps, before name checking late rap legend Tupac. “Ladies come through, Don’t ever, ever let ’em try to stop or try to block you.” Clarkson, though, follows the verse with a classic “Oh yeaaa-uhhh!” which, instead of overpowering Elliott’s prowess, functions as perfect support.
Sure, the FLOTUS-sanctioned tune is a feminist “We Are The World” — songwriter Warren even said so in an interview with Billboard — but “This Is for My Girls” is a rare track where the stars in attendance don’t try to outshine each other. They let their co-stars excel at their own strengths, which really is a solid message for “my girls.”